3rd Anniversary of 709 Crackdown: End Suppression of China Human Rights Lawyers

3rd Anniversary of 709 Crackdown: End Suppression of China Human Rights Lawyers

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A Global Joint Statement on the 3rd Anniversary of 709 Crackdown and China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day
July 9, 2018 marks the 3rd anniversary of the 709 Crackdown, a massive clampdown by the Chinese authorities on human rights lawyers and activists, and the 2nd anniversary of the China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day. During the past year, we have witnessed the Chinese government’s unceasing, unconstitutional and unlawful suppression of rights lawyers and civil society rights in the pretext of “ruling the country in accordance with law,” which we strongly condemn. We urge the Chinese government immediately and unconditionally to release the lawyers and activists detained in the 709 Crackdown, immediately and unconditionally to withdraw the administrative sanctions in respect of the revocation and invalidation of rights lawyers’ practice licenses, and to stop all forms of harassment, intimidation and repression of human rights lawyers.
After the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (19th Party Congress) in 2017 – China has entered a new totalitarian era of Xi Jinping’s socialism, with his personal power at its peak. With the goal of rooting out the rights defenders’ movement, the Chinese government has gone to great lengths as far as consolidating state power through constitutional amendments and repressing civil society by means of draconian laws, leading to a decline in civil society’s capacity to monitor the government. As the head of the “New Five Black Categories,” human rights lawyers will surely be the first to be cracked down on.
Updates of 709 Lawyers and Activists
In response to this era of unprecedented repression, the China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day was set up to recognize Chinese rights lawyers’ courage and determination, as well as to make known their perseverance in resisting against the oppressive regime. The 709 Crackdown and its persisting aftermath remain the major concerns of the China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day on its 2nd anniversary.

Numerous lawyers and activists involved in the crackdown were sentenced last year; several victims are still under detention. Lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who joined forces with 709 families to defend the arrested lawyers, was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power.” Wu Gan, an active civil activist and vocal critic of the judicial system, stated in his appellate brief the people’s deserved right to overthrow an autocratic regime. Wu was charged with “subverting state power” and sentenced to a prison term of 7 years. Convicted of “inciting subversion of state power,” Lawyer Xie Yang suffered various tortures while in detention, such as beatings, “tiger chair”, sleep deprivation, etc. Since being taken away in July 2015, lawyer Wang Quanzhang has been held incommunicado and forbidden to meet his family or lawyers appointed by his family. In an open letter during the 19th Party Congress, Wang’s former defense lawyer Yu Wensheng demanded Xi Jinping’s resignation and immediate constitutional amendment, but was charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and “interference with public duties.” Yu has now been detained for 5 months. Lawyer Zhou Shifeng, former director of Fengrui Law Firm, and veteran activist elder Hu Shigen were convicted of “subverting the state power.” They are serving their respective sentences of 7 years and 7 years and 6 months; Hu is said to be suffering from deteriorating health. Under the charges of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and fraud, Wang Yu’s defense lawyer Li Yuhan has been held in custody for over 8 months, despite her daily need of a number of drugs for her chronic diseases. Yin Xuan and Wang Fang were sentenced to 3 years and 6 months and 3 years respectively for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” simply because they showed support for the 709 lawyers.

The 709 Crackdown has affected no fewer than 321 persons, many of whom have been forced to confess under torture and have been deprived of the right to an open and transparent trial, while countless of others face repression merely because of their relationship with the victims, or are revenged by administrative penalty.[1] The Chinese government’s crushing of rights lawyers and activists is not only an infringement of the country’s criminal procedure law, but also a violation of the constitution and international conventions.
Aftermath of 709 – Repression in Disguise of Administrative Punishment
Human rights lawyers are living under constant threat as suppression is being stepped up. The revision and adoption of Measures for the Administration of Law Firms and Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law by Lawyers in 2016 serve as the legal basis for the Ministry of Justice to impose administrative sanctions on lawyers. Law is no longer rights lawyers’ weapon against the autocratic government; it has been altered to provide whitewash for the regime. Since the 19th Party Congress, 16 human rights lawyers and 3 law firms have already received notification of revocation or invalidation of practice license, half of the lawyers involved are closely related to the victims of 709 Crackdown.[2] Some of the law firms have even been forced by the Ministry of Justice to disband or to dismiss certain lawyers. Meanwhile, the notorious annual inspection system continues as a way to clamp down on human rights lawyers. By means of reviewing the types of cases lawyers have represented and lawyers’ online speech, the annual inspection system not only monitors lawyers’ conduct of practice, but also extends its grip to their personal comments and actions. The subtle measure of license revocation and invalidation has been carefully devised by the Chinese government, in order to thoroughly wipe out the human rights lawyers’ community, without provoking international rebuke. On the one hand, the revocation and invalidation of practice licenses can directly deprive lawyers of their means of livelihood, leading to a chilling effect among human rights lawyers. On the other hand, lawyers will then be deterred from taking up human rights cases, resulting in the shrinking of the rights lawyers’ community. Given the vital role of human rights lawyers in the rights defending movement, this new wave of repression through lawyers’ license revocation and invalidation will have a great impact on the sustainability of the entire movement.
It has come to our attention that the core of the “ruling the country in accordance with law” slogan proposed by the Chinese government is to systemize and institutionalize its repressive measures. We strongly condemn the Chinese government’s ceaseless suppression of and persecution of human rights lawyers, which violate the law and the constitution. We urge the Chinese government to:
1.     immediately release all human rights lawyers and activists detained in the 709 Crackdown, to revoke their convictions and to uphold justice for the human rights defenders;
2.     make known the condition of Wang Quanzhang, Yu Wensheng and Li Yuhan, and to guarantee their right of legal actions, and immediately and unconditionally release them;
3.     immediately and unconditionally withdraw all decisions about revoking and invalidating lawyers’ licenses and other administrative punishments;
4.     stop all forms of harassment and repression against the human rights lawyers’ community, to ensure that lawyers do not suffer intimidation, hindrance, inappropriate interference, prosecution and administrative sanctions for taking cases or for giving speeches in accordance with their recognized professional duties;
The Hope of Rights Defending Movement
Though the regime may seem invincible, the 709 Crackdown in fact reveals the government’s fear of the consolidation of rights defending forces and the speedy expansion of the human rights lawyers’ community. The Crackdown did not deter, but prompted the victims’ families to join the movement for the sake of their loved ones. Having protested for countless times against the judiciary bodies, Li Wenzu embarked on a 1,000-kilometer march to Tianjian to ‘look for’ her husband Wang Quanzhang; Xu Yan, wife of Yu Wensheng, exhausted all institutional means to defend her husband. Their perseverance and determination, together with the fierce international criticisms and a new generation of human rights lawyers that has emerged after the 709 Crackdown, exert immense pressure on the Chinese government. As long as we persist in our striving for justice, there is still a light of hope amidst the darkness.

26th June, 2018

中國維權律師關注組 China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
臺灣聲援中國人權律師網絡 Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network


[1][“709 Crackdown”] Latest Data and Development of Cases as of 1800 17 May 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ybmsjqqf
[2][A Joint Statement to Strongly Condemn the Chinese Government’s Suppression against Human Rights Lawyers through Revocation and Invalidation of Lawyers’ Licenses], https://tinyurl.com/y6uljnzu



「中國人權律師日」正是為回應這個時代而誕生,它既是肯定中國人權律師的勇氣和信念,也是向世界表達人權律師不屈服於強權的意志。第二年的「中國人權律師日」依然關注709大抓捕及其延續打壓的情況,709至今仍未完結。這年來,不少人都相繼判刑,亦有709受害人仍被羈押。譬如,江天勇聯合709家屬為被捕律師維權,被控煽動顛覆國家政權罪而判囚兩年;吳淦積極參與公民行動、批評司法制度,更在刑事上訴狀中直指人民有權顛覆獨裁政權,被控顛覆國家政權罪而判囚七年;謝陽被控煽動顛覆國家政權罪,羈押期間受盡毆打、老虎櫈、疲勞審訊等酷刑折磨;王全璋自2015年7月以來被失蹤逾千日,至今三年一直不予會見家屬及家屬聘請的律師;曾為王全璋辯護律師的余文生,在十九大期間發信要求罷免習近平,並立即修改中國憲法,至今已被羈押五個月,被控煽動顛覆國家政權罪及妨害公務罪;鋒銳律師事務所的主任周世鋒被控顛覆國家政權罪而判囚七年;長年活躍於公民運動的胡石根長老與周世鋒同期被控顛覆國家政權罪而判囚七年六個月,至今身體狀況轉差;王宇辯護律師李昱函被羈押超過八個月,被控尋釁滋事罪及詐騙罪,現在身患多種病患要靠每天服用十幾種藥物治療;還有尹旭安及王芳因為聲援709律師,被控尋釁滋事罪而分別判囚三年六個月及三年。709大抓捕至今受影響人數不少於321人,被行政處罰報復、被株連者更不計其數。[1] 再加上過往審訊過程中屢被揭發使用如非公開審判、以酷刑嚴刑逼供等手段,中國政府對維權律師施加的壓逼,都嚴重違反中國憲法、刑事訴訟法及國際公約。
打壓接踵而至,懸在維權律師頭上的刀刃揮之不去,如今連法律——律師唯一的武器,都越來越淪為替政權打壓塗脂抹粉的工具。2016年修訂的《律師事務所管理辦法》及《律師執業管理辦法》出台後,司法部便藉此對律師實行行政懲戒。十九大至今,已經有16名維權律師及3間律師事務所收到吊銷及註銷執業證的通知,當中過半數都是與709案件關係密切者。[2] 其中,更有司法部強逼律所解散,還有向律所施壓要求解僱律師的事情發生。同時間,年檢制度進一步令律師受壓,無論是律師代理的案件類別或是律師網上的公開言論,都成為年檢審查的項目之一,使律師們的執業行為和非執業行為均受到監視。中國政府扭盡六壬,採取吊銷及註銷執業證這種更隱藏的手段,目的只為減少外界的反撲,並且更為徹底地消滅維權律師群體。中國政府要直接掌握維權律師的經濟生活,一方面威脅他們的生計,另一方面縮小律師群體的規模,令人權案件更難找到律師代理。維權律師在維權運動中擔當關鍵角色,吊銷、註銷執業證的新趨勢將影響維權運動的存續。
1.    立即釋放所有709大抓捕中被囚的維權律師及維權人士,撤銷有罪判決,還人權捍衛者公道;
2.    交代王全璋、余文生、李昱函的人身狀況,保障合法訴訟權利,並立即無條件釋放;
3.    立即無條件撤銷對受影響律師作出的各吊銷、註銷執照及其他懲戒的各項決定;
4.    停止對維權律師群體的一切管控和打壓,確保律師不會因其代理的案件或發表的言論受到恫嚇、妨礙、不適當的干涉,或者起訴和行政制裁。
中國維權律師關注組China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
臺灣聲援中國人權律師網絡Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network



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